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10 Ways to Add More Color (and Nutrients) to Your Plate

fresh carrot and beetroot

Eating a variety of colorful plant foods not only adds variety and texture to each meal, it has been linked to reduced risk of chronic disease, better aging, and general health and wellness.

The nutrients found in foods that come from the earth —  fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes — are known as phytonutrients and they have a synergistic effect, meaning they work together to provide a greater benefit than, say, a supplement of one vitamin or mineral. Small changes to your daily eating habits can lead to big rewards! Use these tips to increase your intake of the nutrient-packed foods our earth has to offer us.

  1. “Eat a rainbow.” Aim for three to five  different brightly colored fruits and vegetables each day. Choose “In Balance” meals in your Bon Appétit café for a plate that contains 1/2 vegetables and/or fruit and a nutrient-rich starch.
  2. Be adventurous in the produce section or local farmers’ market by trying fruits and vegetables you’ve never tasted. Mixing it up allows you to increase the variety of nutrients in your diet.
  3. Add herbs and spices to flavor your food. Not only do you add beneficial nutrients, but you may find you need less salt.
  4. Increase your intake of beans and legumes. Sprinkle them on salads, make hummus from all types of beans, and try using them in place of meat.
  5. Choose lightly or unprocessed whole grain products such as quinoa, bulgur, farro, or brown rice. You will find whole grains at all meals in your Bon Appétit café, so ask for a sample if there’s one you’d like to try.
  6. Add nuts to entrées, salads, and cereal, or eat a small handful of nuts as a snack.
  7. Limit foods that interfere with phytonutrient absorption such as caffeine and alcohol.
  8. Add seasonal berries or other fruit to your yogurt or cereal for breakfast or eat them as a snack. Freeze local berries in season to enjoy their peak flavor and nutritional value year-round.
  9. Enjoy more tomato-based soups, sauces, and other cooked tomato products. Tomatoes’ primary phytonutrients are best absorbed when cooked.
  10. Some nutrients are easier to absorb when food is cooked and others when food is raw, so vary your cooking methods.